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Rational choices are limited in this setting, and may merely consist of making the best of the worst available alternatives. The American public is becoming increasingly frustrated with national policymakers who seem to be firing global broadsides but are not able to hit anything. In fact, Butler even questions whether the war on terrorism is a struggle against Osama bin Laden, his Al Qaeda network, and a few similarly minded groups, or, "is it also an effort to undermine the paradigm that anything goes in the name of a cause and the idea that even the slaughter of civilians is an acceptable political act?
3. Predict the most important trends in terrorism.
Clearly, things are going to get worse before they get better. Today militant Islam is gaining power and influence around the world. The relentless increase in the destructive capacity of small groups and individuals has been fueled in large party by three fundamental technological advances:
1) more powerful weapons;
2) dramatic progress in communications and information processing; and 3) more abundant opportunities to divert nonweapon technologies to destructive ends.
As noted above, terrorists may be dangerous, but they are not stupid, and terrorists organizations around the world have readily embraced these technologies to advance their cause in any way possible. Furthermore, according to Cetron and Davies, by the year 2020, most of the world's 25 most-important Muslim lands could have extremist religious governments; Europe and the U.S. will face more homegrown terrorism, since Islam is the fastest-growing faith in both areas.
The responses adopted by the United States in the years to come will likely continue to trample on civil rights, as hallmarked by the passage of the so-called Patriot Act. This will likely continue until enough Americans have their rights infringed in one fashion or another to cause a grassroots movement to swing the pendulum back the other way. "In the West, the magnitude of the September 11 attacks has led many to accept a scaling back of certain rights in the name of enhancing security. If everyone faced heightened scrutiny, the odds are that an appropriate balance would be stuck between freedom and safety." However, since the anti-terrorism efforts to date have largely been focused on a minority (young men from the Middle East and North Africa), civil rights would appear to be in far greater jeopardy. According to Stuntz, the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon drastically increased the demands on law enforcement. "Those increased demands have already led to some increases in law enforcers' legal authority, and that trend will -- and probably should -- continue, at least for a while."
For the purposes assessing the impact of this on trends on the future war on terrorism, it helps to separate the legal changes (both the ones that have already taken place as well as those that are likely to take place in the near future) into two categories:
1) special powers that are limited to the fight against terrorism; and 2) changes in the authority of police across the board.
The first category is the result of federal legislation and therefore affects only a small percentage of the more than 800,000 law enforcement officers in the United States today; the second is, or potentially will be, the result of judicial decisions, since it is judges who determine the breadth of Fourth and Fifth Amendment law, and it is those bodies of law that serve to constrain the vast majority of those 800,000-plus officers. "The first category has gotten the most ink thus far, but the second category is more important. The sheer size of America's local law enforcement machinery means that the rules that bind it have much more to do with the amount of freedom most Americans possess than the rules that limit the power of FBI agents."
The majority of members of the American public have been able to discern that the balance is not between their own security and freedom but between their own security and other peoples' freedom. "Governments have been quick to take advantage of the resultant greater public willingness to countenance rights restrictions." According to William J. Stuntz, "Crime waves always carry with them calls for more law enforcement authority. What happened on September 11, 2001 was, among other things, a crime wave -- because of that one day, the number of homicides in America in 2001 will be twenty percent higher than the year before." It is little wonder, then, that even before the fires in the rubble that was the World Trade Center were extinguished, some politicians in the United States were calling for more extensive powers for law enforcement and greater restrictions on American citizens, all in the name of the critical war on terrorism.
While the wave of patriotic support for government since the September 11 terrorist attacks has made Americans more willing to accept greater transparency, that is, less privacy, in their personal lives, clearly this will not continue beyond a certain point. With the issue of terrorism moving to the top of the public agenda because of the tragedy of September 11, it is likely that social issues will remain in a low-visibility arena for the near future; however, based on the demonstrated propensity of the current president to maintain close relations with big business, his second term will, in all likelihood, be one in which the second Bush administration continues to do all it deems feasible to satisfy the needs of its business friends which may well mean a continuation of the prosecution of the war on terrorism in a military fashion, using fewer troops than is absolutely necessary to ensure the continued need for highly paid civilian employees of Halliburton and its subsidiaries.
In the final analysis, just as today, it is unlikely that the United States and its erstwhile allies will be able to mount a convincing military response to the dangers posed by international terrorist organizations in the future. Further exacerbating the problem for the West is that none of the old stuff has worked, and offers of Western solutions to uniquely Muslim problems have resulted in almost universal failure; not only have these solutions failed miserably, they have invariably resulted in even more backlash from many Arab quarters that had previously been either amiable or at least benign in their perception of the United States and its interests abroad.
4. Discuss the major organizational patterns of current terrorist groups and how these organizations may or may not change in the future.
Citing an interview with Walter Laqueur, who holds the Kissinger Chair for Security Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC., Joshua Sinai of the Washington Times reports that in Laqueur's view, the most problematic areas in understanding and responding to terrorism have been identifying just who is involved. Laqueur has challenged the notion that in order to understand terrorism one must "investigate its roots rather than deal with its outward manifestations." The concept behind this assertion has been that by eliminating the potential sources of terrorism such as poverty, social stagnation or foreign occupation, it could reasonably be assumed that terrorism would be eliminated; to the contrary, though, Laqueur believes that "terrorism, like revolutions, occurs not when the situation is disastrously bad but when various political, economic, and social trends coincide." In his view, an even more serious issue for the future direction of terrorist response is that in the search for "root causes," attention to terrorist leadership and their aggression and fanaticism becomes lost. "People who practice terrorism are extremists, not moderates, and [in the case of ethno-religious conflicts] the demands of extremists can hardly ever be satisfied without impairing the rights of other ethnic groups, especially if two groups happen to claim the same region or country." These geopolitical ethnic considerations are certainly not new, just as the violence that has almost always been associated with them is not new; however, it would seem that there have been more geopolitical shifts in the past 100 years than in all of history combined, resulting in an enormous amount of social stress and upheaval based on centuries-old feuds and grudges. In this atmosphere, terrorist organizations are ripe for recruiting marginalized and disenfranchised young people who see no other way to vent their rage and achieve their goals; but these organizations are nebulous and will likely remain so in the foreseeable future. In response, many observers today are longing for the "good old days" of the Cold War when America's enemies were well-known and had clear-cut representatives with whom to negotiate. This is simply not the case with international terrorist organizations, many of which are well-funded and highly organized, but geographically dispersed and trained to remain undetected until…[continue]
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